PENN YAN — At times, Saturday’s 14th annual Yates County Shooters Committee On Political Education (SCOPE) Meet the Candidates pig roast resembled a Donald Trump rally.
That may not be a surprise in heavily Republican Yates County.
Also not surprising? That the focus was on the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and gun-owner rights.
The gathering marked one of the few times that the two candidates for the 23rd Congressional District seat — incumbent Republican Tom Reed of Corning and Democratic challenger John Plumb of Randolph — have spoken at the same event.
The district includes part of Ontario County and all of Seneca and Yates counties.
“I come from a small town, much like many towns around here. I’ve always enjoyed deer hunting and the connection it makes to the outdoors,’’ Plumb told a crowd of 350. “Most people are responsible gun owners and I’m a huge fan of that way of life. I’ve defended the Constitution all my life, including the Second Amendment, and that won’t change.”
Plumb, a Navy veteran who was a submarine officer, said he learned the value of teamwork and leadership during his time in the military.
“Whether hunting or through my 22 years in the military, I’ve been around guns most of my life and I know there is a lot they can teach us about safety and responsibility,’’ Plumb said. “The right of New Yorkers to own firearms is not only engraved in our Constitution, it is a part of our way of life in the Southern Tier and our rural communities throughout New York state.”
Later, after hearing several speakers say that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, the 2nd Amendment and people’s guns will be taken away, Plumb called that “outrageous.’’
Reed, a Trump endorser and part of the Tea Party conservatives in the House that came into Congress in 2010, told the crowd he understands them.
“I’m on your side. I was told not to endorse Donald Trump, but I did because the party’s primary voters supported him,’’ Reed said. “I’ve made it real clear that you know where I stand on issues. I am committed to fighting for the 2nd Amendment, and while I respect my opponent for his military service, I’m not sure it’s clear where he stands on the issues.”
He said Plumb recently told a television reporter that he supported President Obama’s executive order on gun control.
“I feel that was contrary to the Second Amendment,’’ Reed said.
It is not known if there will be a debate between the two candidates before the Nov. 8 election.
Reed also warned against giving Democrats control of both houses of Congress and the presidency.
Earlier, a SCOPE official told the crowd that Trump has received an “A’’ grade from the organization and Clinton has received an “F’’ on 2nd Amendment issues.
The master of ceremonies was Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-133, of Pittsford.
He cited the importance of the November election at the state and national levels. He said if Clinton is elected president, she will appoint a new Supreme Court justice that could tilt the court toward more gun control.
“If Hillary Clinton is allowed to appoint the new justice, the Second Amendment is gone,’’ Nojay said.
Peter Haight, owner of Auto Solutions and a conservative radio show host, also railed against Clinton and Democrats for their stances on jobs, terrorism and immigration. He said he supports Trump’s position on those issues.
But he blamed Republicans and Democrats in Congress for the growing federal budget deficit and said something needs to be done about the amount of student loan debt saddled on college graduates.
Sandy King, Yates County Republican chairwoman and Trump delegate to the GOP National Convention, also blasted Clinton, President Obama and Democrats.
Urging people to vote, she said if Clinton wins, “you will lose your guns.’’
The event took place at the Penn Yan Fire Department’s Field on Lake Street.
Also in attendance by invitation and speaking were:
• 47th State Senate District candidates Tom O’Mara, the Republican incumbent; and Leslie Danks Burke, a Democrat.
• Yates County judge candidates Valerie Gardner, Jason Cook and Matt Conlon, all Republicans.
• Assemblyman Philip Palmesano, R-132 of Corning.
• State Supreme Court Judge Charles Schiano, a Republican from Rochester.